So – you’re still interested in astronomy?
If you remember, last time we took a look at 10 things you might want to know about our Sun. Today, I thought it would be a great idea to consider 10 facts you might find interesting about our nearest neighbor, the Moon.
1. Did you know the Moon is made of cheese?
Just kidding! Actually, it’s made up of a number of very distinct, dense layers. As well as a solid iron rich interior, it has an outer core of molten iron. Around this are further levels, rich in silicates, which work their way up to the surface. The crust itself appears to be composed of a combination of silica, alumina, lime, iron oxide, magnesia, titanium dioxide and sodium oxide. Not a very nice taste then!
But don’t worry, our Moon far more interesting in other ways…
2. The Moon is the only natural satellite of Earth, but, she’s the fifth largest satellite in the whole Solar System, after Ganymede, Titan, Callisto and Io.
3. You might think…Only 5th largest! That’s not very good!
Ah, but the Moon is the largest satellite of any in the solar system, when compared to the size of its parent body. She has 27% of the Earth’s diameter and 60% of its density! That’s a lot. And because scientists have been able to study a great many other moons around those other planets, they’ve discovered our Moon is the second densest in the whole Solar System, beaten only by Io. So, by my reckoning, that makes our Moon the best !
4. The Moon is in synchronous rotation.
That means she always shows the same face toward us. And, although her surface is naturally very dark, her proximity to us and reflective qualities make her the brightest object in the sky after the sun.
5. Look at this photo.
When you look at the Moon at night, I bet you always look at that big crater at the bottom? Yes? Well, the name of that crater is Tycho.
6. The Moon has a radius of 3,475 Kilometers, (2,160 miles). On average the Moon is 384,400 Kilometers (238,712 miles) from Earth. I say on average, because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical. Why? Well, that’s because the Moon is the only natural satellite in the Solar System that experiences a stronger gravitational pull from the sun, than its parent planet. Wow!
“Can I have my moon back please?”
7. The Moon does have gravity. But, its 83% weaker than here on earth. That means, if you weigh 140 pounds at home, up there, you’d only way 23 pounds…(I know some ladies who have moon scales – I’m sure of it!)
Also, the Moon does have an atmosphere. But, it’s so tenuous; it’s as good as being a vacuum.
8. The sun has 400 times the Moon’s diameter. But – in a spooky coincidence – it’s also 400 times further away. This explains why the Moon and the Sun look the same size in our sky. Because of that amazing chance, it allows us to experience something else fantastic…
Something you might have already seen.
9. Look at this!
This is a total solar eclipse. Every so often, the Earth, Moon and Sun line up exactly. When that happens, if the Moon passes between us and the Sun, we get beautiful pictures like this.
(It can happen the other way around too. When the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, then she turns a strange pinky/red color)…see?
10. Men first walked on the Moon on July 21st 1969.
And as we all know, that was Neil Armstrong. But, do you know how many have actually landed there altogether?
Aha! Here you go, with the dates they landed there.
Apollo 12 –Charles “Pete” Conrad & Alan Bean (November 19th 1969)
Apollo 15 – David Scott & James Irwin (July 30th 1971)
Apollo 16 – John Young & Charles Duke (April 21st 1972)
Apollo 17 – Eugene Cernan & Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt (December 11th 1972)
There you go! Another interesting fact-finding mission successfully completed. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, please come back next month. Why? Well, as you’ve probably heard in the news and seen within Astronaut.com, the world is starting to look at Mars very closely now.
Next time, we’ll look at 10 interesting things about the red planet you might not have known.
See you then